It’s a common misconception among boat owners that pontoon boats cannot sink. You can understand why pontoon boats are said to be unsinkable because of their stability and safety on the water, which is one reason they are reputed as outstanding watercraft.
Can you sink a pontoon boat, though? Perhaps you are wondering. Despite being highly difficult to sink compared to other boats, you could end up with a sinking pontoon boat in certain circumstances. Although it doesn’t happen frequently, pontoon boats can sink, and it is good to know why they can sink besides being severely damaged.
In our guide, you can find more reasons you have a pontoon sinking. By the end, you’ll know all that causes a pontoon boat to sink and what you can do to avoid your pontoon boat sinking or the entire deck becoming completely submerged and causing internal damage. (Read Your Boat Capsizes But Remains Floating Upside Down)
Why People Say Pontoon Boats Can’t Sink
The fact that pontoon boats are among the safest and most stable boats available has led some people to believe that it is impossible for one to sink. And to some extent, this is true.
Severe damage to the hull is among the most common causes of the boat sinking.
However, now with some clever engineering, pontoon boats are somewhat impervious to this.
A pontoon boat has one deck with two tubes linked to the sides in place of a hull.
These tubes contain air, making it possible for the boat to float. Although the pontoon boat is far more stable because of this design, it is not for this reason that some claim they are unsinkable.
The tubes contain the explanation behind this.
Inside pontoon tubes, there is some content. They are divided up into several groups. Therefore, if the tube develops a hole, only a portion of the tube will fill with water rather than the entire tube. Thus, there won’t be any issues keeping the pontoon afloat.
Can Pontoon Boats Sink?
Typically stable, pontoon boats are used on sunny days in calm, shallow waters, so there isn’t much that could cause the boats to capsize.
Because of this, most people think pontoon boats can’t sink, so it surprises them when they discover they can.
For responsible boat owners, the sinking of a pontoon boat may be exceedingly improbable. However, without routine examinations and careful management, there is always a way that something will go wrong.
Reasons Pontoon Boats Sink
Since pontoon boats are difficult to sink, when one does, it nearly invariably happens because of a mistake made by a person.
1. Overloading the Pontoon
The major factor contributing to sink pontoon boats is overloaded pontoon boats past the boat’s weight limits. In addition, people put more items on a pontoon boat deck because it is spacious.
The pontoons or tubes of a pontoon boat would still appear to be floating in a stable position, even if the boat were so heavy that they were very low in the water.
The water line at the pontoons’ bow end should be lower than the water line at the stern end, it should be noted.
You’ll often find pontoon boats sinking when there is a heavier front than at the rear water line.
To avoid overloading, you should always adhere to the pontoon boat’s manufacturer weight capacity guidelines.
2. Poor Weight Distribution
Even if you don’t overload the pontoon boat, improper weight distribution, particularly in choppy conditions or rough waters, can cause the boat to capsize.
The pontoons are forced lower into the water, creating a plowing effect (nose dive) when too much weight is put on the boat’s front or back.
To prevent any side from bearing more weight than the others, you should consistently distribute your passengers, equipment, and cargo equally.
When out fishing and you catch a big fish, all your passengers’ gathering can be enough to capsize your boat.
3. Incorrect Handling
Pontoon boats have a top speed of 25 mph and are easy to drive. Problems with a pontoon boat sinking can occur when they are used as boats for water sports.
When a boat moves quickly through waves and wakes, it can hit a bad angle if it hits the wake of a large vessel, takes on water, and eventually sinks. It also increases the chances of capsizing and nosediving. (Learn Which Symbol On A Regulatory Marker Is Used To Warn Of A Rock Or Other Underwater Hazard)
4. Water in Pontoon Tubes
The tubes that a pontoon boat rests on give the structure its name. The hollow design of the tubes helps to maintain the boat’s buoyancy.
Because these tubes are shallow, if the drain stopper isn’t adequately secured, water can build up inside them.
While water in the pontoon tubes won’t immediately cause the boat to sink, it increases drag and adds extra weight. You’ll note the boat is significantly slower and heavier on the water.
5. Sailing in Harsh Conditions
Pontoon boats are leisurely watercraft made for sunny days and good times. They perform best in calm shallow waters because of their shallow design.
As a general rule, always check for bad weather before heading out on your pontoon boat.
You should make sure there are no jagged rocks while riding the boat before you leave the dock. While it won’t necessarily sink your boat, one rock can be enough to harm your pontoon tubes.
6. Drain Plugs
Drain plugs are on pontoon tubes. So, any water that could have found its way inside the tube can be drained using those drain plugs.
It’s a good idea to periodically check your tubes for water. Of course, the drain plugs should be properly closed, but double-checking is still a good idea.
Water may enter the tube if the sealing plate or drain plug cap aren’t properly closed.
If this only affects one tube, there shouldn’t be any issues, but if this affects over one chamber, your pontoon boat sinks slowly, and if it is tied up, you can find pontoon boats sink without you being there.
Therefore, double-check them to be sure; it will only take a few seconds and could prevent your boat from sinking.
What Happens With Wrong Motors Fitted?
The horsepower and size of the motor mounted onto a pontoon are extremely important in keeping the boat afloat and stopping it from sinking.
A pontoon is a shallow draft vessel often used as a utility boat. You’ll find a pontoon boat sits on the water using hollow tubes rather than in the water, hence why it is challenging to sink pontoon boats.
The engine power needs to be midway between minimum and maximum high-speed power, thus, the wrong motor power can cause your boat to sink. (Read What Do Carp Eat)
If the power is too low, your boat won’t get on the plane as the front won’t lift from the water.
In calm water, it may not be an issue. Yet if larger vessels are around, your boat may survive the initial wave; once the larger subsequent waves arrive, you can see the nose vanish into the choppy water. You’ll find it hard to keep your boat afloat in this turbulent water.
This is another reason poor weight distribution needs addressing. Your pontoon boat needs to be lighter in the bow area than its stern, or at the very least, it is evenly distributed.
In addition, once your motor is too large, it isn’t just the excess power. You need to consider the weight capacity and how your motor affects this.